August 15, 2014
Jesse Thomas Cook
Jason David Brown as Jack
Molly Dunsworth as Shelley
Robert Maillet as Giant
Tim Burd as Lord Auch
Julian Richings as Phil Prosser
Stephen McHattie as Mayor
Septic Man is the Canadian beast of the year and the perfect blend of favorable foulness and awesome exploitation.
Sometimes you’ve got to sit back with a cold one and have a blast in the old septic tank. It’s a fantastic stress reliever. Well, it is in the case of those who choose to check out Septic Man, the latest from Jesse Thomas Cook. For the picture’s focal character Jack, things aren’t quite so appealing. This is one dude who ends up in an unlikely position during a crisis of epic proportions, and his fate is not only sealed early, it’s also astoundingly grim.
Jesse Thomas Cook is attempting to establish himself a key player in the genre. He directed the ridiculous but fun Monster Brawl, produced the underrated zombie period piece Exit Humanity and he’s currently producing the new Stephen McHattie vehicle, Hellmouth. Meanwhile screenwriter Tony Burgess is the genius behind the inspired zombie piece, Pontypool (he also wrote the script for Exit Humanity), one of the most innovative stories I’ve ever come across. In other words, this is not only a talented duo, this is an insanely talented duo that could very well be the next James Wan/Leigh Whannell. They’re that damn good.
Now don’t get me wrong, these two aren’t making a lot of paranormal themed flicks (and no one can replace either Wan or Whannell). These two are operating with far different content. Exploitation is quite obviously big for these guys, but well-manicured, highly cared for scripts and diverse cinematography are also noticeable points of focus. These guys seem to love zombies, and have proven capable of creating legitimately unique zombie stories, but they’re also willing to sidestep and tackle some downright outrageous ideas. Septic Man is fairly ludicrous. It’s kind of an apocalyptic trip, and kind of a monster movie. There’s a backwoods psycho vibe without actually depositing the story in the backwoods and the balance between corruption and respectful homage is stunning. Cook gets it, and so does Burgess. Septic Man proves it.
The story isn’t remarkably deep, and it’s not overtly complex. But it is a shitload of fun. Figuratively speaking, of course. Jack is the local septic man in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada. The water is suddenly making people sick. Terribly sick. Jack is recruited to discover the truth behind the problem. But he’ll be forced to work all by his lonesome on this issue, as the town has been recently evacuated in the hopes of avoiding mass casualties. But this investigation deviates from the norm. Jack finds himself trapped in a massive septic tank, tormented by two disturbed and murderous brothers, kept company by rotting corpses… slowly transforming into a monster in his right. The question becomes elementary: Can Jack survive?
Jason David Brown, who carries the bulk of the film on his shoulders as Jack the septic man, is a really inspiring young thespian. It can be tough to be the primary player in a film already thin on the character end. That’s not to hint at flimsy writing, there just aren’t many characters in the production. Brown has his hands full, and he takes care of business like an extremely seasoned veteran. Julian Richings, Tim Burd and Robert Maillet provide excellent support. Stephen McHattie is also onboard, unfortunately he’s sorely underused. We get a few televised conference speeches from the man, but it doesn’t fit into the story well enough to stand as legitimately memorable. I’d be a liar if I said I’m fine with the extent of work McHattie had in the project; the man deserved better, although I’m willing to take what I can get.
Complaints aside, I really, really got a kick out of Septic Man. It’s not only a personal favorite in 2014, it’s a vile, sometimes revolting picture that proves exploitation flicks come in all different sorts of packages, and are not all subpar releases. This is a film that looks awesome and delivers the gruesome goods that genre fans crave on a constant basis. It’s a picture worthy of more than a single viewing and it’s likely to snag the hearts of a respectable crowd. Keep an eye on Jesse Thomas Cook, he’s a guy with the drive and talent to go far in this business and continue delivering unorthodox gems like Monster Brawl and Septic Man.